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Archive for September, 2007

Animal Skulls that Spin…Wheeee!

  Mastodon or Mammoth Skull

Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

OK, I meant to link to this part of UM’s Museum of Zoology in the last post but forgot. I guess I’m just geeky enough to find it amusing to play with spinning animal skulls. (They would also be very useful for students to use in ID classes, but for now I just like to spin them ’round and ’round). 😉  You will need QuickTime in order to use this feature, BTW.

Should you want to see a spinning human skull, look here. And for a list of books and on-line resources on animal skull ID, check out this teacher’s resource guide. Finally, if you want to see some very weird animal skulls and an awesome educational website, check out the California Academy of Sciences “Skull” online exhibit.

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Groundhog Hole 

Chucky’s back. (Of course, the fact that I am lobbing old apples out back might have something to do with that…..)

Our old friend/nemesis the woodchuck (aka: groundhog, marmota monax, whistle pig, rat with a bushy tail….) has been making daily appearances in our backyard lately. I haven’t been able to get any good photos, as it is very skittish (probably because Bear likes to chase after it).

I do have some photos from this summer of the two holes it uses out back by the railroad tracks. For a while, Greg would try to fill the holes back in but I think the situation is at the point where we have reached a truce (read that to mean: the humans gave up long before the critter did!)

There is a ton of information about woodchucks out there, but this site from the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology is one of the best. Be sure to check out the photos showing its teeth (and I thought I was buck toothed!)

I have the unique distinction of being one of the elite few who have been sneezed on by a woodchuck!

It happened while I was working as a volunteer at a local wildlife rehabilitation center. They had in a sick woodchuck and I had to clean out its pen and replace the food dish. Let me tell you that although the buggers look cute and cuddly seen from a distance, they are really quite ill tempered and do not appreciate you getting close to them. Anyway, this guy gave a tremendous sneeze while in the process of charging at me (and making all kinds of noises) and he hosed me with his snot. It was green. And so was I after that…

You can check out HogHaven to hear actual groundhog sounds. And, for something completely different, you can check out this absolutely fabulous answer  from Useless Advice from Useless Men to that age old question of how much wood would a….well, you know the rest!

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Blog Angst

I have not posted anything because I had some sort of Neo-Luddite fit. Since late Thursday, I haven’t ventured online at all. Dunno, just felt like I needed to unplug from the computer, TV, radio, world, etc……

Not that Euell Gibbons and I were out eating pine trees and singing “Valerie, Valera” or anything. In fact, I pretty much did….well, er…..nothing.

I’m guessing this is my way of coping with not getting a very sweet job opportunity that came my way. The local library called me up and asked me to come in for an interview for a entry-level librarian job this past week. I was very excited about this, as it would be a HUGE step in the right direction for me. But, when I showed up 5 minutes before my appointed time for the interview, I was told to wait in this lobby-like area until they called for me.

So, I went and sat in a seating area that faced a glass meeting room where they were interviewing another applicant. As I sat reviewing my notes, I tried to scope out the competition. I really started to get a sinking feeling when 15 minutes went by and they were still talking (and laughing!) in there with her. After another 20 minutes went by, I knew they had found the one they wanted.

Still, I went in there and tried my best to sell them on me. It was very clear, however, that they were just going through the motions and needed me there as a way to fill the quota list of applicants. My interview lasted 15-20 minutes. I do think it was worth getting my name and face out there, however. It may not be the best time to start a new job right now anyway with me starting school next August.

Now, I’m off to fantasy land tonight watching my Bollywood DVD I picked up at the library (I can’t help it, I’m addicted to the stuff! It’s kind of like watching “Grease” in another language 😉 )

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The Loaf of Death!

Loaf of Death

In a fit of culinary creativity, I decided to bake something with out a real recipe.

This is quite remarkable because a.) I don’t normally cook much of anything that doesn’t require just pushing a microwave button and b.) even if I cook using a recipe to the letter it nearly always turns out inedible (G. I am SO glad you cook for us!)

I had some time and some left over ingredients that needed to be used up, so I went “freestyle” and tried to adapt a banana bread recipe (using Grape-Nuts as a walnut substitute may have been a bad idea….I know, I know, they aren’t real nuts but they ARE crunchy).

The result: The Loaf of Death!

I wouldn’t try to board a plane carrying this bread. Forget smuggling a file in the center, you could just bonk someone on the head with this loaf and they would be down for the count. The bread turned out to be quite…er, dense, shall we say (not unlike its creator!) 😉

It does, however, smell fantastic. Sigh.

p.s.: I was thinking, “what’s up with the name “Grape-Nuts” anyway and found this from Wikipedia:

Neither grapes nor nuts have ever been ingredients in the cereal. The original formula for Grape-Nuts called for grape sugar, which is composed mostly of glucose unlike most other sugar sources and food sweeteners which are principally sucrose. This, combined with the “nutty” flavor of the cereal inspired its name. But some employees at Post claim that the cereal got its name because the tiny nuggets resemble grape seeds or grape “nuts”.

There is a better and funnier explaination here at The Straight Dope.

And a bizzare old ad for the cereal from 1906 here….eww, ick!

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Crisp! Gotta love Autumn

Took Bear for a walk around the block tonight:  It’s a beautiful, cool evening with no mozzies out, kids riding bikes are wearing jackets (aww, Mom, it’s not that cold out!) and in the distance you can hear the marching band at the high school football game…..I think I’m going to burst into song! I love this time of year. 🙂

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Cult of the Rusty Star

What’s up with all the rusty stars suddenly appearing at an alarming rate on the side of houses?!

Go to fullsize image

It seems like they are everywhere (join us, join us….) Eek!

Maybe this is just the latest rustic outdoor fad, like gazing balls, wooden bent over fat lady bums and dressed up concrete geese? (seriously, someone has waaaay too much time on their hands to be creating all these outfits and who knew there was a Gnome War going on!)

Are you seeing stars? Take a look next time you are driving around…I bet you spot these stars all over the place.

According to one commercial web site:

Barn stars date back to the 1830’s in Pennsylvania and were thought to be a sign of good fortune and luck to many farmers, particularly the German. They were painted directly onto the barns and were later built onto the barn itself. Then, crafter’s {their wording, not mine!} began to make them separate from the barn by making them from wood. Today they are made of steel and have become popular for interior and exterior decorating. Many prefer to allow them to rust by leaving them unpainted. The rusty look is very popular.

Wikipedia has this to say about barn stars. Of course, stars have a strong meaning in nearly every religion. Too much to put in this blog, so check out WP again here.

Oh, and apparently in heraldry a star is a “mullet”…unless you are using Scottish heraldry ’cause then it’s just a “star.” Something to ponder when you view this Scottish mullet:

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Gardens Gone Wild!

weed patch

OK, maybe, just maybe, it’s time for me to consider weeding the patch out back. This was meant to be either a vegetable or native plant garden this past year. As you can see, um, that didn’t exactly happen. I’m using the term “garden” very loosely here, although it does have a wooden boundary around it so that’s a good start 😉

Lately, it’s become a dumping ground for grass clippings, twigs, and pulled weeds. A few mildly good free plants popped up, though. I have a small clump of columbine, a weedy bit of yarrow, some straggling Virginia creeper and an indestructible pile of pokeweed. I’m trying to get rid of the pokeweed, as it gives me contact dermatitis (I know, it’s good food for wildlife but they can look elsewhere).

I have moved “the grand plan” back to next year. What grows well beneath a pine tree anyway? I’m taking all suggestions.

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